[ UPDATE: Voting is now closed. ]
Question: If you could hire someone to help you for the day, would you hire a driver, a house cleaner, a cook, or a babysitter? Click your pick above — I’d love to know!
A few weeks ago I posted a house tour that generated quite a few comments about hired help. Mostly, they implied that since the house was so orderly and beautiful, there must be a ton of hired help — and the tone of the comments sometimes hinted that hired help was a negative thing. I’m not sure if I’ve ever completely understood the strong reactions this topic can inspire. But I’d like to understand better.
In my day dreams, our household is run by Alice from The Brady Bunch. She lives at the house in her own little apartment, so she’s pretty much always available. And she knows the house so well that she doesn’t need instructions on where the books go, or which clothes belong in which bedroom, or when the fire alarm batteries need to be changed. She makes it her job to know. She’s not a nanny, but she can watch the kids in a pinch. And she can run errands as well. It’s a lovely day dream.
Personally, I’m a fan of getting help! I’ve hired help whenever we’ve needed it and had the budget for it. When we didn’t have the budget for it, I would make babysitting trades and even spring cleaning trades with friends and neighbors. Sometimes the help means a babysitter — currently, little June goes to a sitter twice a week. Sometimes the help means a full-on assistant — in Colorado, Melanie of You Are My Fave came to my house every morning to help run my business, which included a range of tasks from assisting with emails, to running errands, to helping make Halloween costumes. (She was amazing, by the way!) Sometimes the help means a house cleaner — during our last year in New York, a lovely woman came twice a month to give the house a good scrubbing.
But I have friends who are really uncomfortable getting help. Some think it’s a waste of money. Some feel guilty about getting help. Some saw their mothers do it alone, and want to model the same thing for their own kids. Some feel the house and the children are their responsibility — and they feel that getting help is shirking that responsibility.
And obviously, the whole conversation comes from a place of cultural tradition (and sometimes privilege too). In fact, like you, I’ve had friends move all over the world, and in certain countries, it’s expected that they will hire help. It would be rude to the local community if they didn’t.
What’s your take? Have you ever hired help? Do you have help now? Do you have a strong opinion on the subject either way?